A new, enhanced MRI diagnostic approach was, for the first time, able to identify significant damage to the blood-brain barrier (BBB) of professional football players following “unreported” trauma or mild concussions. Published in the current issue of JAMA Neurology, this study could improve decision making on when an athlete should “return to play.”
According to Professor Alon Friedman, from the Ben-Gurion University Brain Imaging Research Center and discoverer of the new diagnostic, “until now, there wasn’t a diagnostic capability to identify mild brain injury early after the trauma. In the NFL, other professional sports and especially school sports, concern has grown about the long-term neuropsychiatric consequences of repeated mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) and specifically sports-related concussive and sub-concussive head impacts.”
The paper, published by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center, describes a new diagnostic approach using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for detection and localization of vascular pathology and blood-brain barrier breakdown in football players.
“The goal of our study was to use our new method to visualize the extent and location of BBB dysfunction in football players using Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DCE-MRI) on a Phillips 3-T Ingenia. Specifically, it generates more detailed brain maps showing brain regions with abnormal vasculature, or a ‘leaky BBB.’ ”